By Michael Hernandez
Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo easily received Senate confirmation Thursday to helm the State Department.
The 57-42 vote clears the way for Pompeo to assume the post following widespread opposition from Senate Democrats. In all six Democrats voted to confirm Pompeo to be the next secretary of state, in addition to Independent Senator Angus King.
All Republicans voted in support of Pompeo except Senator John McCain, who is receiving treatment for brain cancer in his native Arizona.
Trump's choice of Pompeo has been controversial, and nearly led to him being voted out of committee without a favorable recommendation.
In last-minute theatrics, Senator Rand Paul cast a decisive vote in favor of Pompeo on Monday after earlier saying the then-nominee lacked his support due to his long-standing interventionist approach to foreign policy.
The last-minute change of heart occurred after Paul said President Donald Trump personally assured him Pompeo agrees the Iraq war was a mistake and that regime change had failed to advance American interests.
In addition to his interventionist penchant, Pompeo has a long track-record of anti-Muslim animus. Following the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, he wrongly condemned Muslim-American leaders for an alleged "silence" on the issue when at least half a dozen groups had condemned the terrorist attack and organized public displays of support for the victims.
The soon-to-be secretary of state never apologized. And he has continued to maintain close ties to conspiracy theorists who regularly peddle anti-Muslim propaganda.
Trump, who fired his former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson via Twitter in March, lauded Pompeo shortly after he received confirmation, calling him a "patriot".
"Having a patriot of Mike’s immense talent, energy, and intellect leading the Department of State will be an incredible asset for our country at this critical time in history," Trump said in a statement. "He will always put the interests of America first. He has my trust. He has my support. Today, he has my congratulations on becoming America’s 70th Secretary of State."
Pompeo is taking office amid several pressing high-profile foreign policy developments, including a pending historic bilateral meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, whom Pompeo met while CIA director in the run-up to the sit-down. Pompeo will also have to deal with the fallout should Trump decide to pull the U.S. out of the international agreement curbing Iran's nuclear program.
Pompeo and Trump have opposed the deal, but none of the U.S.'s negotiating partners agree that a withdraw would advance their interests.